By on April 15, 2014

GM Next

Bloomberg reports now-former General Motors engineer Brian Stouffer conducted a two-year internal investigation into the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the automaker’s current recall crisis, only to find confusion and resistance along the way to finding answers as to why vehicles up through 2008 were stalling out. In addition, Stouffer reported to three different executives assigned to the investigation in one year as it moved along, as well as the lack of sufficient cases that met the criteria required. Only in late 2013, when Delphi responded to Stouffer’s inquiry by providing the document showing the changes made to the switch back in 2006, did the investigation come to a head.

Automotive News posits that the link between the out-of-spec switch and the 13 fatalities under the spotlight may have been muddied under other circumstances focused upon the drivers involved, ranging from being unbelted and driving under the influence, to speeding and lack of experience behind the wheel. Further, both police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn’t immediately make the link between the switch and undeployed airbags, the former citing numerous instances and the various reasons behind each failure.

Though it would appear as though GM were the new kings of recalls as of late, Boston-based used-car shopping site iSeeCars compiled data of the top 15 automakers who sold vehicles in the United States between 2005 and 2014, and found the automaker among the middle of the recall list with 96 recalls for every 100 vehicles sold. Toyota took the No. 1 spot with 167 recalls per 100 sold, while Mercedes-Benz took last place with 38 per 100.

Within GM, public relations head Selim Bingol and human resources chief Melissa Howell have both left the automaker “to pursue other interests.” The departures are not related to the recall crisis, according to spokesman Greg Martin, explaining the exits as “a part of any transition where the CEO makes changes and puts together her leadership team.” That team will now consist of John Quattrone, who will head the human resources department CEO Mary Barra ran until 2011, while head of investor relations Randy Arickx will serve as interim PR chief until a permanent replacement is found.

Finally, The Wall Street Journal reports Opel may finally break even ahead of a 2016 target date after years of seeing red. The charge toward equilibrium is being cautiously led by CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann, whose changes to the company — including the closure of a plant in Germany, a $6 billion investment in Europe, and the introduction of 23 models by 2016 — have helped Opel see a rise of 3 percent in European Union sales during the first two months of 2014. The news follows similar signs of hope for GM overall, as Automotive News adds Cadillac’s and Buick’s first-ever wins in J.D. Power & Associates’ 2014 Customer Service Index, as well as the Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain twins being the only two midsize SUVs to receive a “good” rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the small-overlap test as small victories for the automaker.

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16 Comments on “GM Internal Investigation Hindered By Corporate Culture...”


  • avatar
    jhott997

    What say you, “true believers”?
    I thought there was a “new GM” in 2011?

  • avatar
    brettc

    There’s only a new GM when it comes to the legal stuff. Otherwise it’s just the same old GM that happens to make more modern cars (apparently still with some severe quality/supplier problems).

    Shuffling lifer staff members to new roles doesn’t constitute the purge that should have occurred if GM were allowed to go bankrupt without government intervention. Just my opinion as a guy that occasionally buys new cars and would like to see GM succeed but it seems that the company is its own worst enemy.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      That’s it right there: the organization is its own worst enemy. It’s too bad that the products, patents, processes, etc. couldn’t have been separated from the people back in 2009.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “if GM were allowed to go bankrupt without government intervention”

      Without government funding, GM would not exist today.

      If you were aware of an alternative source of funding, then it would have been nice if you had contacted the automotive task force to inform them of it, as no one who was charged with solving the problem could find it.

      • 0 avatar
        gmichaelj


        “if GM were allowed to go bankrupt without government intervention”

        Without government funding, GM would not exist today. ”

        I can’t speak for brettc, but Bad GM’s continued existence wasn’t a worthy goal. Management needed a deep re-org. That didn’t happen, so the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight is still in charge.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Avoiding a depression was a worthy goal.

          Unfortunately, there was no outsider to remake GM as there was for Chrysler. (You could count the options on one hand and have fingers left over, and Carlos Ghosn was apparently not interested.)

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Well, now that the Depression has been avoided, perhaps this fiasco will lead to ‘management reorganization’:

            http://www.autoextremist.com/current/2014/4/4/we-may-never-pass-this-way-again-gm-at-a-crossroads.html

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            The depression was only delayed, since there was no meaningful effort to halt the destructive policies that led us to the cliff’s edge in the first place. We should have taken our medicine in 2009.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “if GM were allowed to go bankrupt without government intervention”

        Without government funding, GM would not exist today.

        Pch101, he was talking about intervention and you deliberately changed the topic to funding. Nice try, but that invalidates everything you said.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Short version: None of GM’s seven other hands knew what the eighth hand was doing.

  • avatar
    millercycle

    Wouldn’t this have been better as two separate articles? As written it gives the impression that the good news about Opel, JD Powers and safety has been deliberately buried under bad news. We wouldn’t want to give that impression would we?

  • avatar
    Commando

    No, no, it was all the UAW’s fault.
    Why? I don’t know. Just coming up with the same piss poor excuse everyone else uses to answer the question of what’s wrong with GM…

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Corporate arrogance. And it’s not just a GM thing btw.
    {Yes I see my avatar, GM’s old ignitions never did this}

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I would be curious about what happened to engineer Brian Stoufer. Why is he no longer with GM? Was he fired or did he leave voluntarily?

    • 0 avatar
      jhott997

      He retired.
      Read the Bloomberg article. It’s enlightening and begins to touch on the institutional deficiencies that exist at GM.
      GM must inevitably be broken apart.


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